Going the Distance

Mt.Carmel and Westview High School cross country teams are ready to embark on the new athletic season. With high hopes for the CIF Championship, each team has started training, looking to their talented and committed coaching staff for advice and guidance. Read along as we speak with Dennis McClanahan, Head Cross Country Coach at Mt. Carmel High School, and Robert Muschek, Head Cross Country Coach at Westview High School, about their roles with the teams, expectations for this season, and the ways they are challenging their athletes to embody the CIF model of pursuing victory with honor.

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Cover_DennisQ&A
with Mt. Carmel Head Cross Country Coach
Dennis McClanahan

What is the history behind your career as an athlete and coach?
I participated as an athlete in both football and track in high school and college. When I graduated from college after a brief time in the military, I started coaching. My first head coaching job was in 1973 at San Pasqual High School. I was becoming a teacher and that went along with the teaching job.

How did the boys and girls cross country teams perform last year?
Our boys were Division 2 CIF Champions for the second straight year. Our girls were sixth in the Division 2 race.

What do you expect from the boys and girls teams for this year and what type of training or preparation will the teams go through?
Both our boys and girls teams should be competing at the level to challenge other teams to qualify for Fresno and the state championships. As for preparation, we started training for the fall in June so we can be ready.

Where does the team train? Are there any specific running paths in the 92129 area?
We run all over Rancho Peñasquitos and the nearby communities. We like Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve a lot.

What is the most rewarding aspect about coaching? The most challenging?
Working with kids and watching them grow into young adults is extremely satisfying. Keeping up with the young kids and new trends can be a challenge.

What is your coaching philosophy and how do you instill that in the teams?
Work hard, be consistent, try to use your talents to the best, and keep learning. I keep giving them this consistent message and for many of them it will sink in.

Tell us about the support you receive from parents, volunteers, and the community.
Our parents are highly involved, last year over 80% of them helped in at least one of the the following areas: helping with uniform organization and check out, team spaghetti dinners before meets, supporting the kids at meets, fundraising, helping out at the Mt. Carmel Cross XC Invite as well as the end of the season awards night, and more. We have to raise money for everything so their fundraising support is so important.

They are really just very supportive and helpful whenever they can be. I cannot say enough nice things about them as a whole.

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If you could grant the teams one wish, what would it be?
That their goal to make it to Fresno comes true because of the hard work they put in.

Tell us about the coaching staff and the type of experience and skills that they bring to the table.
I have five assistant coaches helping us and all are very hard workers. Each one brings different things to the team. Jay Rillo is our programs only on-campus coach. He is very organized and helps me keep track of our eighty-five athletes on campus. Shan Forehand, a CIF Champion while here at Mt. Carmel as an athlete, brings passion to the table. That’s great for the kids to see. Erin Menefee, former All-CIF runner here at Mt. Carmel, is bringing some new training attitudes to our kids since she just finished running at the collegiate level. That will be new this year. Andrew McClanahan, a former Mt. Carmel runner who really relates well with the athletes, acts as team communicator. They feel comfortable communicating with him. Brian Hobbs, who is new this year, wanted to get into coaching, and he relates well to the kids. He is great to work with.

What do the team members do during the off-season?
Normal high school student activities for athletes. They keep their grades up and try to stay in shape. About 40% play another sport.

Are there any local talents who have gone/or are expected to play on a collegiate and/or professional level?
We have seven athletes from our last two teams running in college. Eric Sindel is running for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Matt McEachern is running for MIT, Jared Senese is on the team at UC San Diego, and Sabrina Seay is running at the collegiate level with UCLA. Derek Morton, Marcus Montalvo, and Alyssa Schall are running at Chico State.

What is your favorite running trail in 92129?
“The team likes running in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.”
~ Coach Dennis

What awards, accolades, or recognitions have the teams garnered over the years?
The boys have won six CIF Championships and finshed runner-up four times. They have won eight league titles. The girls have won twelve CIF Championships and finished second twice. They have won eleven league championships.

How do you stress the importance of academics to the student athletes?
Kids are here to get a education – we stress that. We take steps to try and get students to keep a positive attitude. Many of our alumni come back to visit. We let our kids meet them and see/hear about their successes in order to help motivate them. We have a graduate of our team that is an assistant district attorney here in San Diego. He has been coming back the last couple of years to talk with the kids. That has been very beneficial.

Do you have any upcoming fundraisers or meets you would like to share with our readers?
We just had our 34th Annual Mt. Carmel XC Invite in September. With over ninety schools competing, it is the biggest cross country invite in San Diego.

If you could describe the teams in five words or less, what would you say?
I would say “great attitude, great kids”.


AT-A-GLANCE

Dennis McClanahan

Name: Sabre Springs
Education: Associate Arts Grossmont College, Bachelor of Arts SDSU, Masters Azuza Pacific
Family: Wife – Cyndi; Son – Andrew
Hobbies and Interests: Fitness, trains, photography

 

Mt. Carmel Boys and Girls Cross Country Teams 

Phone: 858-449-5705
Website: www.bigguytf.com
Email: dennismcclanahan@hotmail.com

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Cover_RobertQ&A
with Westview Head Cross County Coach
Robert Muschek

What is the history behind your career as an athlete and coach?
I grew up playing football, baseball, and basketball and played all three in high school. I began a running career to lose weight and find a new challenge while in college. I realized I wanted to be a teacher and a coach from the time I was a junior in high school. I started out coaching baseball and football and after five years found that cross country might be a better fit. I became a head coach twenty years ago, but I am only in my fourth season at Westview. I hoped I could pass on the passion I had for training, competing, and teamwork to high school athletes.

How did the boys and girls cross country teams perform last year?
Both teams qualified for state, which is always a team goal. The boys were ninth at state and the girls were twelfth. The boys were second in the league, the girls were third. The boys were third at the CIF meet, and the girls were fourth.

What do you expect from the boys and girls teams for this year and what type of training or preparation will the teams go through?
We hope to be competitive in a really tough league and finish well enough at the CIF meet that we return to the state meet. The boys have a chance at a very good state meet finish this year. Our top runners have had a big summer of training, eclipsing all other teams I have coached in terms of miles run in a summer.

Where does the team train?
Most of our summer miles – when we run as a team – are run in the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. We run up to Mt. Carmel High School on a regular basis as well. We run out to Camino del Sur past the fire station, and we head up Carmel Valley Rd. and around the community park too.

What is the most rewarding aspect about coaching? The most challenging ?
Seeing the growth in the runners as they improve and develop a passion for the sport, and seeing runners give so much of themselves for a common goal. The most challenging is seeing talented runners not pushing themselves and setting the wrong example for the younger athletes.

What is your coaching philosophy and how do you instill that in the teams?
I would like to see every one of the runners get to their own personal mountaintop through setting the right goals and giving their best to get there. I write a motivational quote down every day that I hope gives them a little emotion to push themselves that day. The older runners can really help as mentors to show what it means to push yourself. Leading by example really carries over to our new runners. It shows them what is expected.

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Tell us about the support you receive from parents, volunteers, and the community.
Our parents are terrific. They volunteer whenever we need help at a meet or with anything extra like booking hotel reservations or having pasta parties which is something that is parent-organized and provided. They ask if they can help with anything and they will. Our families are incredibly supportive.

If you could grant the teams one wish, what would it be?
Our boys team has talked about qualifying for the Nike National Meet for two years, so I guess that would be the wish.

Tell us about the coaching staff and the type of experience and skills that they bring to the table.
Dusty Engel has been on the staff since I arrived four seasons ago and I was lucky to get him. He came over to Westview to teach math and wanted to help out as a coach. He does so much for the boys. He runs hard with them every day and is unbelievably positive. He is supportive, a great listener, and does such an awesome job as a constant presence. Angela Stassi is also on campus every day as a math teacher, and it feels like she has been there with us from the start, although it is only her second year. The girls really like her. She runs with the girls every day and lends a hand with whatever is needed. She is also extremely positive, and, along with our other girls assistant Angela Croteau-Worley, helps keep an eye out for our girls. Our other Angela, known as Coach C-W, is very intuitive. The two female coaches give me a better sense of whether I am on the right path with the girls and how they are feeling. It helps me relax to have our two female coaches that are much more aware of different needs with the girls.

What do the team members do during the off-season?
Most of them continue to run, although a few have played other sports. Distance running demands more of a year-round commitment with the quality of our league and county.

What is your favorite running trail in 92129?
“The loop from Westview to Mt. Carmel and back.”
~ Coach Robert

Are there any local talents who have gone/or are expected to play on a collegiate and/or professional level?
During my tenure with Westview, we had eight girls, I believe, and five boys running collegiately. Amanda Weber, Isabella Gallo, and Jessica Wu are running at UC San Diego. Grace Hanshaw and Hannah Sawatzki are running at SDSU, Julia Yang is at UC Davis, Kaelyn Harbison is at the San Francisco School of the Arts, and Dyess Verfurth is competing for Emory. On the boys side, Ryan Barrett is running for Bowdoin, Collin Barraugh and Garrett Ryan are at Clairemont in Pomona, Alex Gronotti is at Cal State San Marcos, and Michael Good will be running at Chico State.

What awards, accolades, or recognitions have the teams garnered over the years?
Two years ago our boys team received special patches from the CIF office for having the highest team GPA for all boys cross country teams. Our girls teams have qualified for the state meet for four straight years.

How do you stress the importance of academics to the student athletes?
I try to have them out of practice by 5:15 p.m. each day and I am very committed to that. This gives them four to five hours per night for homework.

If you could describe the teams in five words or less, what would you say?
I would say that the teams are dedicated, talented, competitive, focused, and determined.


 

AT-A-GLANCE

Bob Muschek

Community: Scripps Ranch
Education: BSE from the University of Kansas, MA from Azusa Pacific
Family: Wife – Victoria; Children – Maddy, Mandy, and Bobby
Hobbies and Interests: Running, college football

 

Westview Boys and Girls Cross Country Teams

Phone: 858-722-0954
Website: www.powayusd.com/pusdwvhs/athletics/cross_country
Email: rmuschek@guhsd.net

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